We are delighted to announce that three members of the Rethink Phoenix North Lancashire group have recently been notified as winners of a poetry competition run by Rethink Mental Illness.

Sue Flowers, Lindsay Hudd and Ann Horabin all submitted poems to the Ellie Shakerley Poetry Competition on the theme of ‘Hope’. The competition, in its 5th year, was set up in memory of Ellie, who left a legacy of over 500 completed poems of extraordinary and vivid originality.

Ellie Shakerley Poetry Competition Winners.
From left to right: Ann Horabin, Sue Flowers and Lindsay Hudd

Winning poems can be read below.

Amassing dark clouds on the horizon,
Imminently and urgently.
An unexpected yet inevitable
Spiralling and crashing.
Torn from the moorings of home's 
Drifting and unstable.
Splintering on the rocks of hell,
Floundering and screaming.

Hands reaching up from the depths,
Shaking and searching.
Whispering words floating on 
Indecipherable and transient.
Driftwood floating over an ocean
Uncharted and exhausted.
Changing tides of emotions,
Flooding and ebbing.

A safety net of strong arms,
Supporting and polarising.
Familiar voices bridging synapses,
Rebuilding and remapping.
A safe shore to ground and regroup,
Stabilising and reassuring.
A rescue mission unable to fail,
Determined and informed.

Glimpses of old personalities over the
Strengthening and overcoming.
Relaxed expressions with hints of 
Rewarding and reassuring.
Tiny steps on shifting sands,
Tentatively and hesitantly.
Ready to chart the voyage ahead on
the Sea of Hope,
Empowered and resilient.
There is hope in the Christmas tree
lights fuzzily reflected on the silent TV
screen as they change colour allowing
my body to feel their brilliance whilst I
await a phone call.

There is hope in the police officer's
voice when he explains that he
understands and they are doing all
they can to find him
in his confused, distressed state.

There is hope in the kindness that
comes from friends and family who
phone or text.
The teapot of a good friend pours out
hope as I sit in her farmhouse kitchen
wrapped in friendship
Sharing our story and desperately
wanting it all to go away.

There is hope in our family as we
come together to shelter around our
precious man,
persuading him to seek help,
to heal, and build himself back up
slowly, quietly over time.
We believe in him....so there is always
It is dark in here and I am feeling my 
way gingerly
Hands pat patting around me as I move
To sense where things now are.
Our world shifts and shifts
With each incoming tide of professional
"Try this, stop doing that, get her back
into school, get her back into routine".
She looks at me with grey empty eyes
Cardigan wrapped body on a stinkingly 
hot ward
Her ragged arms and legs veiled from
view in shame.
We take her, miles and miles away
Where there is one bed left.
We hug goodbye in the early hours.
She goes with the psych nurse
I sob and howl into the night like an 
Safely beyond the airlock.
Thick layers of medication and therapy
are applied to her
To massage her back to life "make it 
Yet hope did not arrive that way but in
an angry storm within her.
It arrived in her saying "no!" and in the
cutting of contact,
It was held in with firm boundaries of
kindness and compassion around her
broken heart
And the sweet choreography of a new
dance with her younger self began.
So hope lives within her now,
Pouring out of her in art, compassion
and boundaries for herself and others.
It is still learning to float in the ebb and 
flow within her
But she is here, she saved herself and in
doing so lent us her hope.